Tennessee is not recruiting well just because they got 18 dudes
tom crean suuuuuucks
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there was a lot of this last weekend [Bryan Fuller]
CROOOSH. Softball annihilated its regional over the weekend, coming up a single run short of mercy-ruling all three of its opponents. They draw #14 Georgia in the super regionals at Alumni Field in a Thursday/Friday series. Thursday's game is 9PM on ESPN2; Friday's is at 6 on ESPNU. South Bend Wolverine, who graciously previewed the regional for us, is planning on profiling Georgia on Wednesday.
Hiring the team mom. Andy Staples interviews Harbaugh about the Gwendolyn Bush hire:
Bush peppered the coach with the same kinds of questions she did when Harbaugh was recruiting Lyons to Stanford out of Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High. The banter gave Harbaugh flashbacks to the lengthy questionnaire Bush asked all the coaches recruiting her son to complete in 2010. It also gave him an idea. No parent he’d dealt with had studied the recruiting process as thoroughly as Bush. “Some people don’t take the time to really learn the process,” Bush said. “They just let it happen.” Bush wouldn’t allow that for her son. Inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High tailback James White, who sent coaches brief surveys before committing to Wisconsin, Bush and Lyons designed a 50-question exam for coaches to complete before they could recruit Lyons.
Plus, Bush now also had the experience of a parent whose child had played high-level college football while completing a demanding degree program. As a bonus, she had worked in the Broward County school system in a variety of positions for 27 years. She had administrative experience. She would be perfect for Harbaugh’s version of the director of player development position. “With her credentials in the educational system, I thought she’d be a tremendous liaison to academics and also a voice for the moms,” Harbaugh said. “In the recruiting process, the mothers get very little airtime—even throughout the entire college experience.”
Wayne Lyons was headed to Michigan either way, and Harbaugh just took the opportunity provided by Bush getting back in touch to hire a person with that level of detail.
Seeya. The number of Indiana basketball players hitting the highways and byways of America, bindle over shoulder, swelled to five over the weekend with the dismissals of Devin Davis and Hanner Mosquera-Perea. The reason for their departure: Davis was cited for pot possession. Perea's offense was being in the room.
Kevin Trahan notes that the departure of these gentlemen on such a flimsy pretext likely means they were out the door no matter what:
…two Indiana players—Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson—failed multiple drug tests last fall, yet only received four-game suspensions that were more like two-game suspensions, given that two of the games were exhibition contests.
Why the Roger Goodell-like disciplinary inconsistency? It's hard not to wonder if Mosquera-Perea and Davis are less incorrigible embarrassments to Crean's team than a pair of inconvenient bench bodies, victims of scholarship oversigning. After all, Williams was a star for the Hoosiers and integral to their future success. Mosquera-Perea and Davis are not. Meanwhile, Crean needs an open scholarship as he looks to sign star high school big man Thon Maker—and surprise, two spots just become available.
Robinson got the ziggy earlier this offseason after demonstrating he can't shoot at all; Williams is still around, mean-mugging after he successfully makes tea.
Here's some perspective on this offseason's vigorous Creaning: for a football team to go through this much premature attrition they would have to lose 33 players. Tom Crean is the Houston Nutt of basketball. Giggity.
What about the other slot? A familiar name might fill it:
Michigan graduate transfer Max Bielfeldt, who won an appeal that will allow him to transfer within the Big Ten, will visit Indiana on Sunday according to a report from Jon Rothstein.
Bielfeldt confirmed his plans to visit in a text message to Inside the Hall on Saturday afternoon.
Inside the Hall optimistically lists Bielfeldt at 6'8" and most of the comments are along the lines of "he can't be worse than Perea." Which… okay, maybe.
Dave Brandon 2.0 has not been stopped yet. I feel for Texas fans with no light at the end of their terrible AD tunnel yet. Steve Patterson, the new Worst Athletic Director In America, on playing Texas A&M:
On playing the Aggies, Patterson said, "We're booked through '27. My phone's not ringing every day."
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) May 17, 2015
On playing in Mexico City:
Texas AD Steve Patterson says UT could play a football game in Mexico City before 2020.
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) May 17, 2015
Patterson is obsessed with the possibility people in Dubai or Mexico might buy a UT t-shirt because he is the kind of executive sociopath that is more concerned with putting a bullet point on a resume than actually figuring out what is a good idea.
Jerry Hinnen points out that playing at Azteca has historically been a nightmare for the USMNT due to the altitude, smog, and heat. Mexico plays all their games there specifically to discomfit visitors; Patterson wants to play a football game there in the vague hope it gives Texas recognition in a country that doesn't care even a little tiny bit about American football.
Etc.: Doug Skene and Mike Spath break down Rudock's game against Wisconsin. That is the next passing UFR on my list, and it projects to be an encouraging one. Get The Picture on the coming attendance dip. Angelique talks to Adidas. NoDak hockey coach Dave Hakstol hired by the Flyers in the same position.
AFC Ann Arbor beat Oakland United Sporting Real Dinamo Forest FC SC 4-0 to win their first-ever league game. Points to the rowdies for chanting "dos a cero" for the period of time that was a thing.
Not literally a comic book. 28 minutes of Charles Woodson highlights from high school do not quite feature him bounding over a tall building:
Full go minus one decision. John Beilein doesn't see anyone transferring this offseason:
"Everybody seems to be all onboard 100 percent," Beilein said Monday after attending a USBWA Final Four luncheon honoring freshman Austin Hatch. "Obviously, we're not with them 24 hours a day, but I love their attitude right now."
That does not include Caris LeVert, who is deciding on the NBA draft. It seems that people around the program are cautiously optimistic he will stay for his senior year, but we won't have certainty until the early entry deadline, April 26th.
That would leave Michigan with zero scholarships this year and two plus any attrition after next season in 2016. Unless Hatch goes on a medical scholarship that would cut out Mike Edwards, the various transfers looking at Michigan, and Jaylen Brown.
In related news, it looks like Max Bielfeldt will spend his grad transfer year at Bradley.
Meanwhile, another one bites the dust at Indiana. The Hoosiers get a commitment from prep post Thomas Bryant, bringing the number of Indiana players guaranteed to get run off this offseason to three. Someone please fire Tom Crean.
Spike surgery. Spike Albrecht will have surgery on both hips to eliminate the pain he played through this season. His projected return is in four or five months, which cuts him out of all the summer stuff but should have him back on the court a couple months before the season. That should be enough time to knock off the rust.
Soon, a fully healthy Spike will also be dunking on fools.
Out go the successories posters. Harbaugh on the weight room:
"It was shiny, like somebody from Chicago came in [from a ] P.R. firm," Harbaugh said. ""This isn't a slide show.
"This is work."
Don't get a DUI and then fail your probation. Harbaugh on Glasgow:
"The legal system has got as much hanging over his head as anybody else could possibly put on him," Harbaugh said. "There's nothing more that I, or the football program or the university could have on Graham right now than what (the courts) have.
"This is somebody who is taking a breathalyzer every morning and every night. He's got to be clean, 100 percent clean, not a drop of alcohol. And he'll either do it, or he won't. I believe in him, I believe he will. But we'll all know, there will be no secrets on that. Whether he does it or he doesn't, it'll be for public consumption."
He will have to do this through January, so he will either be clean as a whistle or you'll know he wasn't.
This is a lovely shot chart. Aubrey Dawkins did two things last year:
Threes and throwdowns. He was excellent at the threes, average at the throwdowns, which still means he was extremely efficient. Next year's project is getting some of those hexagons to be larger without changing their distribution. Oh, and doing the defense and rebounding stuff.
Adjusting for the matchups and expected points in each game, scoring in the smaller tournaments has been about 5.6 ppg more than the NCAA tournament. This is 2.4 ppg higher than the typical difference in these events. That's not something that will transform the game, but if you assume that boost applies to the entire 2015-16 season, it would take the sport to scoring levels not seen since 2003. (That statement excludes last season, when scoring increased dramatically, partly because a bunch of fouls were called.)
Not surprisingly, most of the scoring increase can be attributed to an increase in pace. Accounting for the teams involved and the increase in tempo normally seen in lower-level events, there have been two additional possessions per 40 minutes than we'd expect under normal rules. This is a more modest change compared to scoring and only turns the clock back to 2011 in terms of pace. This suggests simply reducing the shot clock to 30 won't produce significantly more up-and-down basketball. A surprising finding here is that slow-paced teams were affected as much as fast-paced teams were.
One of the concerns of the 30-second clock is that it may make offenses less efficient, but the postseason experiment isn't providing much evidence of that. Accounting for the quality of the teams and the usual increase in efficiency seen in the lower-level events, efficiency was actually up, though by a miniscule 0.6 points per 100 possessions.
The efficiency thing is almost certainly noise, but it looks like any effects are going to be minimal in that department. I don't think there's much wrong with college basketball other than the fact that block/charge is impossible to call and the refs are hilariously bad in general—but that's not something you can wave a wand and fix.
Final CSS rankings out. Minor movement for most players. Zach Werenski is 9th, down from 6th. Kyle Connor moves up a spot to 13th. 2016 recruit Cooper Marody moves up ten spots to 53rd. There were some more significant moves:
NTDP forward Brendan Warren dropped from 34th to 66th, which is an early third round pick to the fifth or sixth. He had an okay year only with the U18s.
Incoming defenders Joe Cecconi and Nick Boka went in opposite directions; Cecconi dropped from 70 to 88 and Boka shot up from 176 to 117.
Given Michigan's needs next year I'm happy that Boka's stock has apparently surged, even if Warren is less of a prospect than you think he might be. I wonder if Michigan will try to bring Marody or another 2016 recruit in now given Copp's departure.
The Hockey Writers have an extensive breakdown of Werenski that compares him to Trouba. I know I'm seeing Werenski a year younger, but he is not Trouba. Trouba was a commanding defenseman at both ends of the ice. Werenski really came on in the offensive zone late in the year but was a significant source of defensive problems.
Etc.: 1914 All-American ring for "Maully," which is either John Maulbetsch's nickname or a cartoon hammer. Bacari Alexander is up for the UW-Green Bay job, which is a pretty good mid-major posting. Various OMG Harbaugh stories on spring from ESPN, MLive, MVictors, etc.
Hello: AFC Ann Arbor. We are getting a minor league soccer team that I am inordinately excited about, and tickets have just gone on sale. I already hate Oakland United FC for having both "United" and "FC" in their name. I bet their crest doesn't even have a tree. Or stripes. I do not know how these tossers deign to call themselves any sort of organization. Down with United Sporting Real FC Oakland Dinamo.
AFCAA has an eight game home schedule over the summer; in year one they're playing at Pioneer. Plenty of current and former Wolverines are on the team, and it sounds like they're importing some food carts (Mark's carts?) for games. I'll be at the home opener May 1st, stop by and say hi.
Jim Harbaugh has the best twitter feed. Tips for identifying good coaching twitter feeds:
GOOD: odd capitalization and grammar, random shoutouts to Cracker Barrel and Judge Judy
BAD: hashtags, motivational sayings, motivational sayings embedded in hashtags
Harbaugh is on the good side of the equation:
Michigan Nicknames Snake-Bubba-Jumbo-Flame-Soup-EasyEd-BigEd-BigHoss-Chunky-SirCharles-Bump & the ultimate nickname that became legendary Bo
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 27, 2015
Amongst many people saying "don't forget X" I declare Derek Moore the winner for reminding Harbaugh that he should not forget the legend of Tony Pape, AKA "Fat Elvis."
Spring Creaning time. A couple days after Stanford Robinson said "I'm not going anywhere" to media in the IU locker room, the university announced his transfer. Today he was followed by freshman wing Max Hoetzel.
This annual exodus has the same impetus all of Tom Crean's other annual exoduses have: someone must leave (or not show up) because Crean drastically oversigned. This year Indiana has zero seniors, a full roster, and two recruits. And they are still recruiting various players for the late period. To their credit, a lot of Indiana fans hate this.
Every coach is going to have some attrition from guys who don't work out. Few sign multiple guys in November knowing that this means someone on the current team is going to be forcibly ejected from the program as a result. And for what? For a ten seed because your incompetent self can't count or recruit a post player.
We poke at Tom Izzo around here because he's easy to poke at, but he is a legitimate coach and seemingly good dude; Crean is another level of detestable. For everybody's sake let's hope that buyout comes down enough to get rid of him soon. The Big Ten is ill-served by his presence at a basketball mecca.
I'm very disappointed in 61 of you. You guys are jerks.
should I quit blogging about Michigan and dedicate myself to UFRing episodes of "Coach"? RT for YES FAV for NO
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) March 27, 2015
Upon further review, there is not enough football in episodes of "Coach" to do this.
I guess this is official now? Or at least official-ish:
Michigan football: Legends jerseys are gone, helmet stickers are back. Imagine Bo and Canham would be pleased by both.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) March 27, 2015
I'd rather have the inverse but I'm not too bent out of shape about it. I like the clean look the decal-less helmets have and thought the legends jerseys were a good way to remind people that the Wisterts were great and Gerald Ford was an All-American. Hopefully they can do something for the retired numbers other than just put them back in mothballs.
Also semi-official? I can't remember if Wayne Lyons's transfer was already semi-official or has just become slightly more so, but the big news from Mike Zordich's press conference was Zordich accidentally letting the cat out of the bag about Lyons's imminent arrival. Except that Lyons himself said it in February and we already have a Hello post for him.
Spike was hurting. Spike Albrecht was not fully right last year:
Albrecht is wrestling with the decision whether to undergo off-season surgery on both of his ailing hips, procedures that would leave him rehabilitating for "probably four to five months, at least."
"That's a tough situation," Albrecht said. "I don't want to sit out, but I also don't want to go through another season like I went through this year, but if that's the only option and that's the best option, then I'll do it."
Apparently those surgeries have to be scheduled consecutively and involve—bleah—"shaving down an area of hip bone." A 4-5 month recovery period is likely, which would make him whole in August or September. Tough decision to weigh a lack of pain against whatever rustiness getting laid up like that would induce.
Meanwhile, Alejandro Zuniga evaluated Albrecht.
Gordon Bell, 1975. Via Dr. Sap:
Also Ufer calling a pretty spectacular Bell touchdown run against Purdue.
Etc.: Sauce Castillo. Sauce Castillo. Neeeerd baseball hits the Daily. On John Calipari. Tattoos ranked by how bad of an idea they are. Jack Miller's decision to quit football was about concussions a bit, unless it wasn't.
3/6/2014 – Michigan 84, Indiana 80 – 23-7, 15-3 Big Ten
Hello. I shoot 69%. They gave me a hat. [Fuller]
Arizona's lost, Virginia's lost, Wisconsin's lost, Duke's lost, Michigan State's lost, everyone's lost. They've all done so against teams ranging from mediocre to horrible. Losing is not hard; not losing is super hard. Michigan hasn't lost but three times in an 18 game Big Ten schedule and won the league by a staggering three-game margin. That's hard.
Michigan's done this despite being "soft" by any reasonable definition. Poke an opposing fan in a bad mood and they will hurl this charge. It's hard to dispute. Michigan's defense hovers around 100th in Kenpom. Their rebounding is middling at best. They do not steal the ball or block shots; they're dead last in the league at preventing two pointers from going in. Tom Izzo looks ready to die and is throwing most of his team under the bus for being softbatch, and his outfit is second in the league.
Meanwhile, here are the conference records of teams that finished last in two-point defense in the past ten years: 4-14, 4-14, 7-11, 4-14, 9-9, 1-17, 2-14, 6-10, 1-15, 3-13, 2-14.
This is a parade of Carmody-era Northwestern teams and anybody-era Penn State with the occasional outlier thrown in. You may be familiar with one of those outliers. That 9-9 record was John Beilein's first tourney team at Michigan, Stu and Zack and Manny and a Crisler eruption. Michigan broke through with a statistical indicator that usually means you're Penn State. A bad version of Penn State. Michigan got to the second round of the tourney.
This year's league-worst two point defense annihilated what's statistically the best conference in the country. Last year Michigan took a defense that entered the NCAA tourney in the 70s and charged into the national title game.
This is not a normal thing. Every year, people pull profiles of past NCAA champions out and dismiss Michigan because they don't have enough defense. Michigan does not seem to notice. They are too busy playing NBA Jam.
Michigan must be approaching the practical limit of offensive efficiency. Sometimes, like first halves against Nebraska and Illinois, they approach the theoretical limit.
Over the past decade only a half-dozen teams exceeded Michigan's current output, and they are generally 30 win teams: Chris Paul at Wake Forest, the uber-loaded 2009 Carolina squad that dismantled MSU in the title game, that one year Jon Diebler hit 50% from three off of Jared Sullinger kickouts. These teams are juggernauts, charging through major-conference regular seasons with two or three losses.
This year, the teams scraping the ceiling are not juggernauts. Creighton, Duke, and Michigan are probing these heights with the aid of the sometimes-goofy new rules, but they've all lost at least six games already. None will be top seeds. All have defenses ranging from 80th to 100th on Kenpom. All have offenses that are otherworldly.
Together they comprise a new version of contender, a major-conference version of three-point sniping underdogs. Each takes 40% of their shots from behind the line and connects on 40% of their attempts. The other teams at the top of the the three-point-make charts are more often Utah State and Drake than they are major conference teams.
This year, the feisty 12 shooting down a five-seed has migrated into the protected seeds, with all the rights and privileges therein. Chaos beckons. I've got no idea what's going to happen, but I know that it is going to be crazy. Stock up on subs.
Hall of fame. If you get three encomiums in one career you're a MGoHall of Fame lock. Jordan Morgan has cleared the bar. He has been here for the entire building process and now stands at the top of the Big Ten, net in teeth. Those who stay will be champions. (And most of those who don't.) Hiring John Beilein was a good idea.
Anyway: Indiana came out with a gameplan that was essentially a Jordan Morgan diss track, starting 6'7" freshman Devin Davis and switching every screen. Morgan was not about to take that slap in the face on senior day. He posted, he rebounded, he kept Michigan in the game during the period where Indiana literally could not miss. He ended 7/8 from the floor with five offensive rebounds and a couple steals.
His makes showed an advanced knowledge of how to finish without the ability to play above the rim, especially the bucket on which one dribble led to a tight-angle layup around Vonleh. He just finished a season shooting 69% as a 6'8" non-leaper. Sure sure sure a lot of those were put on a platter for him, but there are a lot of guys who get things put on a platter for them who don't shoot anywhere near 69%. I mean, his ORtg is higher than anyone on the team other than Albrecht.
BONKERS. Speaking of ORTG, the worst on the team still belongs to Derrick Walton, and his number is 110, up 11 points from midseason. Indiana has one guy above that—Ferrell, obvs. Vonleh is just about tied with Walton.
Michigan's offense is just bonkers this year.
Obligatory photo of everyone else smiling because they did something spectacular and difficult as Jon Horford mediates or something. We would not let you down in a matter this important.
you may be on the court at Crisler after winning the Big Ten by three games
I am on the court as well
but I am also under the Banyan tree
inventing the world anew every moment [Fuller]
Will Sheehey can't check this no mo [Fuller]
Point guard on Stauskas: dead. Hail the Beilein adjustment matrix. Michigan started out against Michigan State by obliterating MSU's previous defensive strategy. A collection of back cuts and down screens got Michigan a bunch of looks at the basket and forced MSU to stop denying the perimeter. At that point Michigan could just run their offense, which was their offense and therefore ridiculous.
Michigan's Borg-like ability to adapt to phaser frequencies was also on display in this one. We spent the better part of a month fretting about opponents shutting down Nik Stauskas by sticking their point guards on him. This strategy was initiated in Michigan's loss at Assembly Hall (Yes That Assembly Hall). Stauskas again drew Ferrell. Results: 21 points on 17 shot equivalents, two assists, one turnover. Stauskas got quick post ups for buckets, drove past Ferrell, shot over Ferrell. Etc.
Stauskas has put up 25, 15, 21, 24, and 21 in his last five games. He's adapted to little guys in his grill, mostly by raining it in from three, but here the drives were also effective.
Zone. The 1-3-1 was the difference in the game. It shot Indiana's uncharacteristically low turnover rate into the stratosphere and didn't give up any worse shots than the man to man was. The 1-3-1 is inherently a high risk, high reward defense that does give up a lot of GRAHHHHH dunks, offensive rebounds, and open threes. It compensates by turning the opponent over. So when you're giving up a lot of GRAHHHHH dunks and open threes anyway, you might as well get some turnovers.
It is frustrating that Michigan did not try out a packed-in 2-3 and dare anyone not named Ferrell to raise up over it. They only have so much time to work on things, I guess, but given Indiana's struggles against a 2-3 it seems like it would have been something to try once it became apparent that dribble penetration was there for anyone who wanted it.
Instead, the 1-3-1 worked just fine. Indiana had 12 second half turnovers, many of them forced by the zone and specifically Caris LeVert's ever-extending hands. He's only credited with two steals in the box score but his impact was much larger than that as the flypaper dude at the top.
Entering the tourney, having the 1-3-1 in Michigan's back pocket is a major asset, especially given that they're down to 93rd in defense on Kenpom. They may have to change what they're doing at some point when the man to man just isn't working.
coachin' in a van down by the river [Bryan Fuller]
Clap on, Clappy. Michigan got the ball back up three with 39 seconds left. Indiana did not trap or press; they eventually fouled Spike Albrecht with 17 seconds left on the shot clock. Crean was apparently screaming at his team to foul for a good 10 seconds of that delay, even so that's just… wow. Let's just say I can't see a Beilein team not knowing that you should try to steal the ball and foul quickly in that situation.
GET OFF THE COURT, SCHRUTE. Crean actually shoved one of his players then forced the referee to box him out on one Indiana possession. Beilein had already been hit with a technical for saying something along the lines of "dagnabit," and Crean's on the court affecting the play. Nothing.
They've got to do something about this in the offseason. Dump your horrible charge changes* and actually enforce technicals against coaches who show up on the court. For the love of pants.
*[Semi-weekly charge bitching goes here. Adriean Payne had been set for a good two seconds on this "block":
Worst block/charge call of the year? pic.twitter.com/6OMl5bILXY
— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) March 9, 2014
Meanwhile, Spike Albrecht can't get a call because he's tiny and flies halfway across the arena when a 6'8" guy puts his shoulder into him. It looks like a flop because Spike Albrecht is tiny. And then Morgan gets a call on the 1-3-1 as he slides under Troy Williams after Williams is already in the air. They need to simplify the call, because the refs simply cannot make it.]
"DAGNABIT" works. Indiana got called for a bunch of travels in the second half after Beilein's tech. I hate coach ref histrionics, but they apparently work.
Brackets. Palm hasn't budged on Michigan as the #2 in the West with Arizona despite the carnage around them. Brad Evans of Yahoo has Michigan fifth overall, presumably matched with Villanova in the East. Lunardi has Michigan the #2 in the South opposite Florida. Crashing the Dance's algorithm has Michigan, Kansas, Syracuse, and Wichita State in a veritable dead heat for spots 4-7.
While it's unlikely Wichita is in any danger of dropping off the one line—algorithms are having slight issues with a 33-0 MVC team—it's anyone's guess how the twos get ordered. At this point it looks like Michigan is a lock to get one; hopefully they can play themselves out of the West. Indianapolis is obviously ideal for the regionals, and it does seem like Michigan can play themselves there by winning the BTT. Kansas and Virginia losses in their tournaments would help.
One thing that seems assured: Michigan will be in Milwaukee for the first weekend. Save Wisconsin, their competitors for that spot (Creighton, Iowa State, Cincinnati, MSU) are probably incapable of passing M on the S-curve.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten tournament sets up nicely for Michigan with Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin on the other side of the bracket:
Indiana is clearly a bad matchup for M; everyone else they could meet before the final is manageable.
The most interesting bracketology debate, by the way, is Duke. Palm had them a 5 seed before their win over UNC, citing a near-total lack of accomplishments on the road. They're now a weak 4 on his bracket. Lunardi still has them a 2. Lunardi's got a rep for not being particularly good until late, when he talks to people close to the committee. If Duke does end up a fringe Sweet 16 seed, that is point Palm.
Congratsketball. Well done, Nebrasketball. By beating Wisconsin you've moved yourselves definitively off the bubble and finished a near-undefeated home season. And the only thing you lose this offseason is Ray Gallegos.
|WHAT||Michigan at Indiana|
|WHERE||Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana|
|WHEN||1 pm Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -5 (KenPom)|
|TV||CBS (PBP: Ian Eagle; Analyst: Bill Raftery)|
Michigan's hasn't won in Assembly Hall since 2009 and were swept in last season's series against the Hoosiers, costing the Wolverines a potential Big Ten title. (Things ended up working out juuuuuuust fine.) This year's Indiana squad barely resembles last year's conference champions, as this graphic from Inside The Hall—which notably excises Mitch McGary's stats here—displays quite clearly:
Gone are two national player of the year candidates in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo; same with snipers Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, and even the valuable depth provided by Remy Abell.
Sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell has transitioned remarkably well from being the fifth scoring option last season to this year's go-to guy, averaging 17.3 points and 4.0 assist per game while improving his three-point shooting from 30.3% on 76 attempts to 41.4% on 128 attempts and cutting down on turnovers. His finishing inside the arc (43.2% 2-pt) still leaves much to be desired; in all other facets, however, he's become an excellent point guard.
The other familiar face is that of senior wing Will Sheehey, who's gone the opposite direction of Farrell; after being a highly efficient sixth man a season ago, he's struggled mightily with his outside shot (25.9% 3-pt, down from 34.6%) as a starter, with an uptick in turnovers to boot. His decent mid-range jumper and solid athleticism keep him a threat off the dribble, but he's been a big disappointment this season.
Indiana's most-used lineup features three freshmen surrounding the aforementioned returners. The most prominent is 6'10" center and potential lottery pick Noah Vonleh, a monster on the boards (10th nationally in DReb%, 115th in OReb%) with a quickly developing post-up game. Offensively, he's an efficient inside scorer who gets to the line frequently and even shows flashes of an Adreian Payne-esque outside shot (10/18 3-pt); turnovers are his only real bugaboo on that end, and he makes up for a lot of that by altering plenty of shots on defense.
Über-athletic 6'7" wing Troy Williams is another huge threat on the offensive glass and a decent finisher (and superlative dunker) when he gets near the hoop; right now, that's about the extent of his offensive arsenal, as his outside shooting is non-existent (2/20 3-pt) and he's turning the ball over on nearly a quarter of his possessions used.
6'4" freshman guard Stanford Robinson earned his first career starts in the last three games, replacing grad-year transfer Evan Gordon—brother of one-year Hoosier wonder Eric Gordon—at the two. Robinson gets almost all of his production at or near the rim; his jump shot is very much a work-in-progress. Gordon is shooting 49% from two and 33% from three on the year and has struggled mightily in his last four games, shooting a combined 4/20 from the field with just two FTA in that span—his production is heavily reliant on an iffy outside shot.
Backup bigs Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Jeremy Hollowell, and Devin Davis have all seen sporadic playing time behind Vonleh and Williams. Mosquera-Perea and Davis provide good shot-blocking and rebounding while committing far too many turnovers given their limited offensive roles. Hollowell fancies himself a stretch four but has shot very poorly on jumpers while struggling to finish around the rim; he doesn't provide nearly the same level of rebounding as the other two backup bigs.
Unless you count holding serve at home by three points against #21 Wisconsin, a win looking less impressive by the day, Indiana's resume is entirely devoid of a quality win—their next-best conference victory came at home against #80 Illinois, while their best non-conference triumph came on a neutral floor versus #105 Washington. They are 3-7 against KP100 teams, were blown out in Assembly Hall against Michigan State, and lost on their own floor against fourth place(!!!!!!!!!!!!) Northwestern.
Now that we're partway into conference play, I'll start posting four factors charts for all the games and Big Ten games only, with sample size issues obviously coming into play on the latter for a while.
Four factors, all games (national ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||49.3 (183)||21.9 (328)||39.8 (10)||49.6 (36)|
|Defense||44.9 (37)||18.3 (178)||26.5 (14)||33.9 (52)|
Conference-only (eight games, Big Ten ranks in parentheses):
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||45.3 (9)||22.4 (12)||34.8 (3)||40.4 (5)|
|Defense||49.5 (9)||17.7 (5)||25.3 (3)||30.9 (4)|
Indiana can't shoot, which is both a problem (obviously) and rather bizarre to watch after last year's squad made it rain on the regular; the Hoosiers are 11th in the conference in two-point percentage (42.1% in B1G play) and while Yogi Ferrell is keeping their three-point percentage respectable (35.5%), that's on the second-fewest attempts in the league. While their ability to crash the boards and get to the line keep the offense from being Northwestern-level terrible, the lack of shooting combined with ample turnovers has them tenth in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency.
The defense ranks fourth in the conference in efficiency, propped up by great rebounding and a lack of fouls. Their field goal defense has actually fallen off a cliff in Big Ten play—opponents have consistently shot well over 50% on two-pointers, and if threes are falling Indiana is in deep trouble, as they allow the third-most attempts from beyond the arc in the conference.
Keep the rebounding close. Indiana is much like Purdue—their jump shots are liable to go anywhere, which makes it difficult to keep them off the offensive boards. The Hoosier have more size and athleticism than the Boilermakers, which rebounded 39% of their misses—to Michigan's 24%—on Thursday night against the Wolverines. It's unreasonable to hope for Michigan to keep Vonleh and Co. from having the edge in rebounding; at the very least, however, they need to minimize the number of rebounds around the basket that can result in immediate putback attempts. Long rebounds are less of an issue against a team lacking much in the way of shooting.
Hang with them early. As Brian Kudron of Genuinely Sarcastic helpfully noted today, Indiana has a history of jumping out to big early leads against Michigan in Assembly Hall:
2006-07: 11-0 IU at 18:16 (LMAO) 2008-09: 19-8 IU at 12:28 2010-11: 22-11 IU at 7:09 2011-12: 17-6 IU at 12:02 2012-13: 18-7 IU at 15:25
— Brian (@BKudron) February 1, 2014
Mercifully, Michigan didn't play at Indiana in 2007-08, Beilein's first season at the helm. The Wolverines would recover to win just one of these games. Not only is it helpful to keep the Assembly Hall crowd from becoming a major factor early on, there's also this: the Hoosiers have worn down in second halves in Big Ten play, with a -1 total scoring margin in the first half and a -20 margin in the second half and overtime.
Working hypothesis: this has a lot to do with Yogi Ferrell not having a viable backup—he's played 33 or more minutes in all but one Big Ten game, including a 43-minute outing in their overtime loss to Illinois. Stay close early and Michigan should be able to wear down the Hoosiers over the course of the game.
Stay out of early foul trouble. Easier said than done in Assembly Hall, obviously. With Vonleh and Williams providing tons of athleticism and rebounding up front, Michigan needs Jordan Morgan or Jon Horford on the floor at all times to mitigate their effectiveness. This will also be a big test for Glenn Robinson III, who's been very quiet on the glass in Big Ten play with the notable exception of the Iowa game. If those guys pick up some cheap ones, Vonleh can go to work in the post and Williams can take advantage of the lack of depth at the four—Zak Irvin's DReb% is currently lower than Nik Stauskas'.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 5
Winn notes Iowa's efficiency margin is bolstered by two blowouts of Northwestern, though scoring as well as they have against the Wildcats' bafflingly good defense is more of a positive sign than I think Winn gives them credit for.
Indiana could have used Creek (#1, left) or Abell (right)
Michigan's next Big Ten opponent is Indiana, an outfit that's 3-5 in conference, 13-8 overall, headed for an NIT bid at best. While Indiana lost buckets of talent to graduation, they didn't have to be this bad. Tom Crean screwed himself.
I give Tom Izzo a lot of crap around these parts for his constant histrionics, but 90% of that is pure rivalry spiciness. I hate Tom Izzo, because he is extraordinarily easy to hate. But I simultaneously treasure Tom Izzo because he is easy to hate in that way. When not indulging in rivalry business, I don't actually mind the guy. He is clean. Full stop. I don't want to hear anything about Appling and Payne; we've got our own issues in that department. I hate the fact that he gets away with being on the court and his kids can grab without the Big Ten reacting, but that's just basketball stuff.
I hate two Big Ten coaches more than Izzo. One is obvious: Bo Ryan, promulgator of murderously slow swampball and headman of a program that just accidentally happens to put more feet under jumpshooters' ankles than anyone else in the country. But y'all know that because you've read one thing I've said about Wisconsin basketball.
The second is Tom Crean, who brought SEC-style oversigning to the Big Ten. Last year he shuffled off a recruit who met NCAA regulations but ended up at a prep school and is now at Syracuse. This year he needed to dump another guy and ended up ejecting two, Remy Abell and Maurice Creek. But unlike Calipari or Saban, Tom Crean is so inept that his callous disregard of the whole college thing is actually hurting his team.
You see, Rudy, Indiana can't shoot worth two damns. They're 223rd in three point percentage; they are 308th in 3PA/FGA. They're only being kept that high because Yogi Ferrell made an unexpected and impressive burst from a 30% shooter to a 41% shooter. Nobody else on their team can shoot. The only guy who even bothers to try is Will Sheehey, the mediocre senior-to-be who didn't get cut.
The rest of the team occasionally chucks one up in an unsuccessful attempt to keep 'em honest, with results much like the ones Michigan saw against Purdue, their most recent opponent and the other team in the state of Indiana that couldn't hit the broad side of that dude named Pork Chop in eight tries. This is the main reason Indiana is adrift. Teams pack it in against them with impunity.
You did it to yourself
The help Indiana needs was sitting on Indiana's bench last year.
Abell's currently sitting out a year before getting on the court for Xavier, a 15-5 Big East team currrently ranked about 40 spots above Indiana on Kenpom. Abell hit 16 of 33 three-pointers as a 12-minute-per-game sophomore last year; he had a healthy FT rate and an ORTG of 116. This would be a close second to Ferrell this year in terms of IU ORTG, and if Abell's three point shooting was anywhere near what it seemed like it might be he would be a 30 minute per game staple just to spread the floor.
Meanwhile, Maurice Creek was as a fifth-year grad student and therefore immediately eligible at George Washington. Last year the Colonials were below .500 and out of the KP100; this year they are 17-3, in the top 40, and a clear Bracket Matrix at-large. Maurice Creek starts. He takes more shots than anyone on the team, hits threes at a nearly 40% rate, and is nationally ranked in eFG%. He is exactly what Clappy needs on his team of tall athletic guys who seem to be encountering a basketball for the first time every night.
Creek could have been a sentimental legend at Indiana, the guy who came back from injury after injury to spearhead the team as a fifth year senior and preserve their tourney streak. Instead, he's a vastly improved GW's go-to guy as Tom Crean's inept Hoosiers founder.
There isn't really a point here except maybe you should run around in circles and go "eeee" a bit because sometimes the universe does poke the right people in the eye. Clap on, Clappy, as Mo Creek plays in a tournament you won't get invited to.